When I’m sick, I want a bowl of lentil soup. When the weather changes, I want a bowl of lentil soup. When I’ve had a good day, I want a bowl of lentil soup. Honestly, most every day I have a craving for lentil soup.
In addition to their scrumptious nutty and woody flavor, lentils are rich in dietary fiber, iron, and protein, and they’re also low in calories. They are one of nature’s healthiest foods, and are inexpensive with a long shelf life. As far as I’m concerned, lentils are a perfect food.
Most lentil soup recipes call for diced ham, but ham isn’t usually something I have stocked in my refrigerator. Also, if you use vegetable broth, the soup can be enjoyed by vegetarians and vegans. It’s a simple, delicious, and nutritious soup that cooks up with little attention needed by the chef and usually in just an hour.
Sans Ham Lentil Soup
- 1 Tbl canola oil
- 2 large cloves of shallot or half a small white onion, finely diced
- 1 large clove of garlic, finely diced
- 8 oz vegetable, chicken, or beef broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup dried green lentils
- For finishing: A pinch of Kosher salt or smoked garlic salt and a tsp of balsamic vinegar
Warm the canola oil in a soup pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the shallot (or onion) and garlic, and lightly sauté them for 2 or 3 minutes. When the shallot and garlic start to turn transparent, add the broth and water and turn the burner up to high. Bring the liquid up to a boil.
Add the lentils and bring the liquid back to a boil. Once the liquid is boiling again, turn the burner to low and simmer the soup, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Every 15 minutes during cooking, give the soup a stir and check the liquid in the pot. Until the last few minutes of cooking, you want the lentils to be slightly submerged in water. You may need to add water, 1/4 cup at a time, during the cooking process to make sure this happens. You’re more likely to have to add water during the winter and in dry climates.
When the soup is ready, the lentils should be moist and a little mushy. You don’t want al dente lentils, but you also don’t want to overcook them into a paste.
Serve the soup with a pinch of Kosher salt or smoked garlic salt and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar added to each bowl. Don’t add the salt earlier in the cooking process or the lentils will have difficulty getting soft.
I prefer to use Kiawe Smoked Garlic Sea Salt from the Aloha Spice Company, which I order from Hawaii (yum!):
In addition to the ingredients listed above, you might also want to add diced carrots or celery. If you do, add these at the same time as the shallot and garlic, and increase the sauté time until it’s easy to pierce the carrots with a fork (about 5 to 7 minutes).